Harold Holzer Wins the 2015 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize

Posted on February 16, 2015

Lincoln and the Power of the Press

Harold Holzer will be awarded the 2015 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize. The formal announcement will be made Thursday. Holzer won for his book Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion (Simon & Schuster).

Holzer's book gives a fascinating look at something that most Americans are unaware of: President Lincoln's use of the press of the day to advance his agenda. Lincoln was always a newspaper reader and he learned to use editorials and persuasion of the top editors of the day to make his case, especially during the Civil War. His manipulation of the media was truly brilliant and will come as a bit of a surprise to a generation that grew up in the digital age.

The Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize is awarded annually for the finest scholarly work in English on Abraham Lincoln or the American Civil War era. The award carries a $50,000 cash prize. The award was established in 1990 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, in partnership with Dr. Gabor Boritt, Director Emeritus of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.

Mr. Holzer is one of the country's most distinguished scholars on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. He was the senior vice president for public affairs Metropolitan Museum of Art where he workd for more than 20 years. He is a frequent lecturer on the topics of the Civil War and President Lincoln. Mr. Holzer's book beat out 114 nominated works, including those of the other finalists: William Blair, Richard Brookhiser, James B. Conroy, Jonathan W. White and Joshua Zeitz.

In addition to a hefty check, Mr. Holzer will also receive a bronze replica of Augustus Saint-Gaudens' life-size bust entitled "Lincoln the Man." He will be honored by Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History at a ceremony in New York City on April 23rd.

James G. Basker, the president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute, explained Holzer's win: "Holzer's book breaks new ground, assembles unforgettable characters, and tells a gripping story about Lincoln and the war for public opinion in the media of his time." Winners of the award in previous years include Ken Burns, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Eric Foner.

In this video, Mr. Holzer discusses some little known facts about President Lincoln and the press of his day: